Archive for September, 2012

Fangover: Day 10 – Season Grade

Awesome tease. Awesome let down

With a show like True Blood – or any large ensemble cast for that matter– I expect that there will be things that work for me and things that don’t. Although I may not like every particular storyline, generally speaking the last few episodes will pull things together into a cohesive whole and create a satisfying conclusion. I think the overall weakness of the Authority plot and the number of questions left hanging over our head made that impossible to do.

Let’s take a last look at the major storylines in no particular order before I give my final overall grade.

Terry/Patrick/Arlene – Everyone should have heeded Rene’s warning and avoided this plotline like the plague. The actors did what they could with it, but there’s a good reason that it was probably the single most universally panned arcs of the season. True Blood writers PLEASE stop trying to make Terry and Arlene main characters. It does not one favors and takes screen time away from stories that need more development. D

Pam/Tara – I think everyone was pleasantly surprised at just how great this turned out. Pam is more popular than ever and Tara has gained a whole new legion of fans comprised of people like me who couldn’t stand her before. Brava. A

Russell/Steve – On some level we knew their return was a bit of stunt casting. While they found something believable to do with Steve, Russell wasn’t as lucky and I found myself missing the more menacing aspects of the character. Still, the pair provided some great scenes and it was nice seeing Eric finally get his revenge. B

The Obamas – On the one hand, this was one of the stronger multi-character arcs, especially for characters like Andy. On the other hand, there was a lot of convenient day-saving by Sam and Luna and that was when they weren’t rolling on the ground looking like right fools. B-

Jessica/Jason/Hoyt – Personally, I’m over this triangle. Without question, Hoyt got the sendoff he deserved and the storyline provided some of the most powerful moments of the season. It appears Jessica and Jason are truly done for, and I’m quite all right with that. A-

Lafayette – Needed to be done, wasn’t interesting at all. The grade has been saved by the return of classic Lafayette in the last part of the season. C+

Sanguinistas – All bark, almost no bite save for the rise of Billith at the end. The past few seasons it is the vampire’s story arc that has brought everyone together at the end and though this did it in numbers, it didn’t do so in spirit and as a results, the season never quite came together. C

Alcide and the werewolves – The only interesting parts involved non-weres and that’s never a good thing. C-

Overall although the season did some things right, taken as a whole the season was just decent. Most of the episodes were okay, few were truly great and as a whole there weren’t that many moments that you truly want to rewatch. As a whole this season is just kind of forgettable which is why I’m going with a final score of C+

It’s been fun doing the fangover and I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Advertisements

Fangover: Day 9 – Bill

The calm before the Billith

A few days ago I complained about how Jason’s shift towards pure hatred felt especially extreme because of the use of hallucinations. That said, at least it was believable because he’s had feelings like those before – back in Season 2 when he’d gotten himself mixed up with the Fellowship of the Sun. On the other hand, Bill has always been a staunch mainstreamer. It was those beliefs that got the attention of the AVL and those beliefs that got him the assistance of the snipers to take out Sophie-Anne.*

So when you look at a Bill that has for the most part always been fairly pro-human, this shift to a religious fundamentalist felt almost like a 180 degree shift. It’s not to say that Bill was incapable of making that shift; but the mechanism they used – the flashback to his dying daughter – didn’t really work to show us how Bill had made a mistake by not turning his daughter. It was just kind of there. As a result, it left many viewers with this feeling of unease and questioning whether he really believed or was it all an act. Personally, on an Intellectual level I knew he believed – I’d seen the early descriptions of “Save Yourself” and knew that he must be a believed – but on an emotional level, I didn’t buy it.  I only bought into it towards the very end of the season, when he killed Kibwe for even praying by the blood. Stephen’s performance really helped sell it in “Save Yourself” but it shouldn’t have had to have been sold by the acting, but rather by the writing.

As for Billith, it will be interesting to see where the journey takes us with his character. Hopefully it’ll be a better trip than the one we took just to get to this point because Bill (and the viewers) deserve better.

Best Moment – Salome’s Death

Yes, I just used this in the previous post, but it still stands here. It was an absolutely fantastic scene and a reminder that Bill really is a fantastic actor himself, playing whatever part is needed to further his own agenda. He was so cool and so polite right before he killed Salome and that swagger was just awesome. I hope that the Billith we see next season leans more in this direction than in the bloody screamer that Lilith appeared as the entirety of this last season.

Worst Moment – His slapping Jessica.

I can’t help it. I felt for the baby vamp. It was just such a cruel thing to do, and it happened before I fully bought into him truly believing. It was very jarring and hard to watch.

*For those unaware, the extras on the S4 Blu Ray made it clear that a “high-ranking member” of the Authority signed off on the use of the guards. Based on what we saw this season, it stands to reason that Roman authorized it because Bill’s mainstreaming agenda aligned so well with his own.

Fangover: Day 8 – The Authority

 What a lovely bland picture for a band of bland vampires.

If you pressed me to pick one reason why I think the season just didn’t quite gel as a whole this year, the Authority would have to be it. I stand by what I’ve said on True Bites: there were hints of good ideas in here, but they were underdeveloped. It’s as if the producers got the idea ‘We want to tackle the separation of Church and State’ but couldn’t quite figure out how to make it all work in an interesting manner.

On top of a lack of a truly cohesive plot, another issue that must be brought up is the fact for the most part, the Chancellors were a rather dull personality-less group. Salome showed promise, but that which allowed Bill to defeat her was also why she was ultimately uninteresting as a character: she believed, but she couldn’t really put anything into motion. She wasn’t a schemer. As a result, she walked completely blind into Bill’s trap just as he knew she would. It would have been more interesting had she had she a cunning mind to go along with her faith. Even Roman- the single most hyped character of the bunch – didn’t really have much to bring to the table.

Throughout the first four seasons, the Authority was built up to be this shadowy group that, unless you were seeking to join them, you did not want to draw the attention of because odds are that True Death (or worse) would soon be following. This season shone a light on them and they were revealed to be just as petty as the vampires on the ground. Russell remained more intimidating than Roman and all the Chancellor’s combined.  We had no reason to be scared of them anymore and that proved to be a huge issue.

I will say that Salome fared the best of the lot them – the writers did a great job with the subtleties of making her a believer. Her words, her actions all pointed to someone who wasn’t playing a game. If the others had been more fleshed out, it might have been a stronger arc overall.

Best Moment –  Salome’s Death

Aside from the fact that we got a fantastic scene from Bill, I picked this death as the death of the night because it showed how to the bitter end she was a true believer. When she realized that she was dead, she wasn’t mad, she wasn’t even upset. She realized she wasn’t the strongest and therefore not the one that had been Chosen. She met the True Death believing that Lilith had found a perfect champion in Bill and was comforted by it because that is what she had worked towards all these years.

Worst Moment- Roman, as a whole.

I think the blame for this one had to go to HBO itself. HBO knew that Christopher Meloni had a huge fanbase – one that actually originated on HBO – so it makes perfect sense that they’d want to trumpet his joining the cast. The problem is there just wasn’t much for him there even considering how short his stay ultimately was. Though I think the character would have been a disappointment regardless of the actor playing him, having him hyped up did him no favors.

Fangover: Day 7 – Eric

I wanted more of that Eric. The suit and the attitude both.

Ask a Trubie why they watch the show and you’ll get a multitude of answers. Ask them to list their top three reasons and Eric will probably be on that list in some way shape or form. The devotion to the character goes beyond the physical attraction many feel towards Alexander Skarsgard because of the character: the attitude, the pose, the power. Eric spent much of last season neutered, a shell of his former self due to his amnesia and I at least was hoping for a return to form in Season 5.

We got that. Sort of.

The old Eric was unquestionably present at the beginning of the season – definitely through the first two episodes. He was also present in the last two episodes of the season. The other eight episodes in the middle…eh kind of. Aside from the scene where he released Pam from the Maker/Child bond (whose emotional impact I still maintain was a part of the use of Godric’s theme – the music that played when he met the sun) that bulk of the season he was just kind of there. While it’s true that he was limited in part due to having to play along with the Authority, it also felt that for long stretches of it that he was sitting back and not necessarily doing anything. And unlike Bill, whom it felt like may actually be planning something, Eric just seemed to be there only really stepping up when there was little doubt that Bill was just flat out gone. It just didn’t feel like the Eric that we’d known and grown to love. As I put it on True Bites on night – I preferred Amensia Eric – who in addition to no memories had no personality – to  this eric and that says something.

Going forward, just as Season 3 marked the shift from Sookie to Bill, Season 6 is going to mark a shift from Bill to Eric not only in terms of character focus but romantic interest (I feel you Team Bill shippers but I think the rise of Billith pretty much puts a nail in the coffin of that particular relationship) as much as such thing can happen in light of the vamp with a claim on Sookie, Nora’s jealousy and Eric trying to stop Billith will allow. Crossing fingers it’s the Eric we love and not the Eric we’re indifferent over.

Best Moments – The Bromance

No, it didn’t technically last too long since Bill drank the kool-aid, but you could just see the connection between Stephen and Alex and just how good friends they are how much fun they have doing this show. Case and point: the piggy back ride. Totally improvised. If you need even more proof: Alex and Stephen were literally brought to Alan Ball’s office to remind them to tone it down because they weren’t supposed to be BFFs.

Worst Moment – The stuff with Nora

The first sex scene was a bit shocking. The second sex scene was really? And the jealousy bit…why? Ultimately just felt unnecessary.

Fangover: Day 6 – Sookie

Yeah girl, you earned that drink.

Starting in Season 3 True Blood began to shift its focus. It became less about the waitress from Bon Temps and more about the vampires in her life, but especially Bill. While personally I don’t mind this shift, one of the undeniable victims of the shift has been Sookie herself. She spent much of Season 3 and Season 4 looking for them/trying to save them/generally focused them and having little of any storyline that was uniquely hers. So when they announced that Sookie wouldn’t get back together with them for at least a period time in Season 5 (probably lengthened by Anna’s pregnancy) I was happy: the writers would finally have a chance to give us something new for her and reinvigorate the character. Now that the season’s come to end though, I’ll admit it: I missed Sookie with the vampires. She had the must spunk, the most attitude, the most Sookie-ish behavior when she was around them.

This is another instance of where the writer just hasn’t done the character justice. I can’t say that I was a fan of Sookie at the beginning of the season, but there her behavior was justifiable as was her emotional state. Once the aftermath of Debbie Pelt was neatly swept under the rug however, things began to fall apart and by the time she’d lead the vampires through the factory to find Russell that was pretty much the end of where she was interesting.

As with Jason, this whole plot about Warlow just not good or entertaining. She had some good scenes here and there – like the chats with Jason, she had some scenes stolen – Lafayette channeling Gran and a lot of scenes that made you stare at the screen with an expression of WTF on your face, like the meeting with the fairy elder. To be fair, the fairy elder stuff was exacerbated by the fact that director/cinematographer did a really distracting job of trying to hide Anna’s pregnancy.

It is clear by now that the whole theme of “who is Warlow?” is going to play a large part in Season 6. At this point, I just hope she doesn’t stay away from the vampires because she needs them as much as the audience enjoys watching them.

Best Moment – Sookie taking the vampires through the factory.

She was still buzzed and she was lecturing Eric and Bill like they were a couple of stupid teenagers who’d never watched a horror film before. Great scene and a reminder of just why she really shouldn’t be kept from the vampires, even if we sometimes wish she would be.

Worst Moment – The whole way the Debbie Pelt situation was handled

There’s no question that the Debbie situation had to be handled, but it ultimately came across that the writers didn’t really want to commit to it and so swept it under the wrong with a few lies from Alcide and some convenient glamouring from Jessica. If they wanted to make it go away, why not just claim self-defense? Given that Tara was shot and killed, you’d have a pretty solid case for it and it’d felt less forced. But if they went that route you couldn’t have had Alcide trying to take advantage of drunk Sookie, could you?